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Emmanuel Sanders not disciplined, but NFL is reviewing fake injury

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Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders gave the rest of the NFL a clear lesson in how to save a timeout by employing poor sportsmanship on Sunday night, faking an injury to give his team time to get the right personnel on the field.

With the Steelers facing third-and-11 with six minutes left in the game, Pittsburgh wanted to substitute but didn’t have time to do it without picking up a delay of game penalty. So Sanders — one of the players who was supposed to come off — simply fell to the ground pretending to be hurt, which caused a clock stoppage that allowed the Steelers to get the correct personnel on the field.

It was incredibly obvious that Sanders was faking, but it became ridiculously obvious when Sanders went right back on the field just one play later. NBC’s Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels both noticed that Sanders was faking immediately, and Michaels noted that the league office might have something to say about it.

Based on what the league office has said in the past, Sanders should have to explain himself. Last season, when two Giants players obviously faked an injury in a game against the Rams, the NFL distributed a memo saying, in part, “all those suspected of being involved in faking injuries will be summoned promptly to this office.”

Well, now Sanders is suspected of being involved in faking injuries. But NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT that Sanders wasn’t summoned to the league office, or disciplined in any other way. However, the situation is still being reviewed by the league office.

As I wrote at the time of the Giants’ fake injury controversy, faking injuries is a time-honored practice in football. It dates at least to 1953, when a Notre Dame team was dubbed the “Fainting Irish” after faking an injury to get a free timeout that set up a tying touchdown on the last play of a game against Iowa. But the fact that fake injuries have been around for more than half a century doesn’t make them acceptable. And since the NFL has warned teams not to do it, there’s no reason for the NFL not to act now that Sanders has obviously done it.

It would stink to see the NFL become like soccer, where players are constantly flopping to the turf with phony injuries. But if the NFL doesn’t crack down, things could head in that direction. The example that Sanders set on Sunday night is clear: If you want a free timeout, just fake an injury. The referee and the league office won’t do anything about it.

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91 Responses to “Emmanuel Sanders not disciplined, but NFL is reviewing fake injury”
  1. b7p19 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:02 PM

    Pretty much. And while I think it’s incredibly Bush League, any team that is not doing it is really kind of stupid.

  2. titansbro says: Oct 23, 2012 4:02 PM


  3. geniusfan says: Oct 23, 2012 4:02 PM

    What is this nonsense? This selective discipline is ridiculous. Steelers fans better not ever say the league is “out to get them” ever again.

  4. waxthat says: Oct 23, 2012 4:03 PM

    Suspend Sanders a game and fine Tomlin.

    This is a joke.

  5. bgsusteelers says: Oct 23, 2012 4:04 PM

    That was embarrassing and is not indicative of how the Steelers do things. At least the Steelers I know and love. Maybe the new Steelers are allowed to do these things. Anyways, I don’t like it one bit.

  6. ghjjf says: Oct 23, 2012 4:04 PM

    If a player has to come out with an injury they should not be able to return until the next series, that should prevent most of the flops.

  7. blackngold4life says: Oct 23, 2012 4:05 PM

    Poor sportsmanship? Is that what it is now? Defensive players been doing it forever..

  8. mathomp3 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:05 PM

    Its fine as long as he plays for the Steelers…anyone else would be fined.

  9. jbl429 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:06 PM

    On top of that, didn’t Sanders take a bow when he reentered the field the next play?

  10. daburgher says: Oct 23, 2012 4:06 PM

    yeah that was quite ridiculous and hopefully he does get a fine… and its not like the penalty would have hurt.. ben is unstoppable on 3rd no matter the distance

  11. coolgato13 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:06 PM

    Steelers not named James Harrison = free pass.

  12. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 23, 2012 4:06 PM

    Emmanuel did a “Big Ben”. With an extra flourish at the end for the benefit of the judges.

  13. 49ersgiants4life says: Oct 23, 2012 4:06 PM

    I mean if it isn’t going to be penalized and the player doesn’t get fined or anything for it then in the end it is a smart play why wouldn’t players do that do that

  14. n0hopeleft says: Oct 23, 2012 4:07 PM

    So in the end, the NFL is to blame.

    Not holding someone accountable for a rule in place is just the same as harvesting the behavior.

  15. golfnutt67 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:08 PM

    of coarse the league wouldn’t fine its beloved Steelers they are a model franchise and can not do anything wrong…what a joke. Very weak Mr. Sanders and shame on you coach Tomlin for allowing it.

  16. dexterismyhero says: Oct 23, 2012 4:08 PM

    Actually he fainted a few seconds after Ben told him he met his sister at a bar in Milledgeville during the summer.

  17. sojumaster says: Oct 23, 2012 4:10 PM

    I said it last year, a very very simple solution to this and I believe very fair.

    If a player is hurt, they are out for the rest of the drive. If it is the last play of the drive, then they are out for the next drive.

    I am Steelers fan and I was embarrassed on the terrible acting job there.

    Reminds me in the Women’s World Cup when it was USA vs China. China Player gets carted off the field and literally is on the field after 5 seconds. (The ref did give her a yellow card)

  18. ed1952 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:12 PM

    Shocking…simply shocking!!!

  19. b1unt3d says: Oct 23, 2012 4:12 PM


  20. mtchainsmoker says: Oct 23, 2012 4:12 PM

    Perhaps he was faking injury so that he get more “meds” from the team’s former doctor.

  21. nflhof says: Oct 23, 2012 4:12 PM

    Well at least he wasn’t using a golf towel to enhance his grip errrrrrrr stickum.

  22. skittlesareyum says: Oct 23, 2012 4:13 PM

    They need to find a way to punish the coach/team, but not the player. If the team isn’t penalized they will still order players to flop, putting the players in a tough situation: obey and be fined/suspended, or ignore the coach and be benched.

  23. numba1recx19 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:13 PM

    He had a cramp…..

  24. steviemo says: Oct 23, 2012 4:14 PM

    If a guy does the fake soccer thing, he should have to stay out of the game for the next two offensive series. Then we’ll know who’s hurt and who isn’t.

  25. Steeley McBeam says: Oct 23, 2012 4:15 PM

    He did nothing illegal.

  26. kylexitron says: Oct 23, 2012 4:16 PM

    I wonder where the stealers would be as an organization if not for a history of hand-holding by the league?

  27. stairwayto7 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:16 PM

    Smart move! People upset are mad their team players do not do it!

  28. timbuttrum says: Oct 23, 2012 4:18 PM

    Should have to sit out a minimum of 4 snaps before returning. Would change things.

  29. pgh15212 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:19 PM

    Don’t blame Sanders for following orders from his superiors. He should be commended for his discipline. (Instant Obedience to orders) That is how you stay alive!

    By any means necessary.

  30. yinzgotsix says: Oct 23, 2012 4:22 PM

    What do you expect from the steelers? The standard is the standard!

  31. ach217 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:22 PM

    Savvy move, no need for punishment.

  32. rodgers419 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:23 PM

    There’s a reason why they hasn’t cracked down on this this yet.

    The NFL is hysterical about safety. Safety this safety that. Every year there are 6 more rules added for player safety. They have safety commercials. They are being sued on safety issues.

    How do you think the NFL is going to look if they start deeming injuries ‘fake’? What happens when they deem an injury fake and it turns out it was actually real? You can’t prove Sanders faked his injury unless he actually comes out and admits it. There’s a reason why the league is sticking to memo’s and tough talk and not taking any real action.

  33. wgray981 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:23 PM

    Haha speaking of faking injury… Remember The Cinci vs Cleveland game last year? I think it was Gresham who totally flopped after being touched after a play and it drew a foul. Look it up it’s hilarious

  34. sacpete1 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:26 PM

    I appreciate and respect the Steeler fans who recognize the impropriety and blatant cheating of this play. And yes, this occurs all too frequently but should not be accepted simply because of that. The suggestion of keeping that player out of the same for x number of plays or a series is sound and the league could easily frame it as “protecting” those that are injured.

  35. cmich2006 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:26 PM

    First he did it to buy Ben time as he was hurt…this article doesn’t mention that.

    Second, if you make a player take a series or two off per ‘injury’ it will force players to stay on the field and lead to a potentially more serious injury. The NFL does not want that…litigation nightmare should their policy entice an injured player to stay on the field and suffer a significantly worse injury.

  36. Stiller43 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:28 PM

    I know everyone (including me, a steelers fan) suspects he was faking, but what is someone (officials or the league office) going to do? You cant force them to use a TO when the guy might actually be hurt. And if you start making those calls judgement calls, undoubtedly some team will get screwed when the player is really hurt.

    Even the league office…can you prove he didnt cramp bad? How can you fine a guy because you suspect something with no evidence (quiet saints fans, this isnt your forum)?

  37. Steeler's Will-enator says: Oct 23, 2012 4:31 PM

    I can hear the crying all the way down here in Florida. Bush league? yeah. Cheap? yeah. Want to prevent it? change the rules. Until then shaddup.

  38. jabbotts says: Oct 23, 2012 4:32 PM

    It’s really quite simple. Any player with an injury in the last eight minutes of the game is out for what’s left of the entire game

  39. covercorner says: Oct 23, 2012 4:34 PM

    First putting garbage, next faking injuries. Emmanuel Sanders is a menace to society.

  40. draculalambert says: Oct 23, 2012 4:35 PM

    it’s real..oh, it’s damn real!

  41. blackngold4life says: Oct 23, 2012 4:39 PM

    Exactly if the league wants to stop it change the rules..make it longer then one play to sit out. Can’t tell a player he’s not hurt.Plenty of players don’t come out with worse injuries.

  42. zn0rseman says: Oct 23, 2012 4:41 PM

    The term “selective discipline” is exactly what it is.

    The NFL won’t make an example out of anyone until a small market team is busted as obviously as the Giants and Steelers were.

    Basically, if you aren’t the Giants, Steelers, Patriots, Packers, Cowboys, or Eagles… you’d better not get caught doing this because they’ll come down super hard.

    Meanwhile all of the above teams will continue to have free reign to get as many free timeouts as they want.

  43. johnnybgood19 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:43 PM

    It looked like a cramp to me…. Collensworthless saying that it wasn’t don’t make it so…. in fact it lend creds to it being true….

    And if not, we’ll give him a mention at the Emmies as best supporting actor…..

  44. yinzgotsix says: Oct 23, 2012 4:43 PM

    What would all the yinzers say if an offensive player pulled this garbage against the stealers? It’s ok to admit your teams pathetic, yinz still got 6!

  45. crownofthehelmet says: Oct 23, 2012 4:49 PM

    I remeber being taught the same play in Pee-Wee football.

  46. imhoo says: Oct 23, 2012 4:50 PM

    Oh my, people. This is hardly a something to get your panties in a bunch over. Get over it. I’m a Steelers fan and I’ll admit that wasn’t a shining moment, but really? I mean, this isn’t a huge deal!

  47. doublezero74 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:51 PM

    Lame. Typical Pittsburgh shadyness

  48. tfbuckfutter says: Oct 23, 2012 4:54 PM

    The obvious solution is no stoppages for injury. If you don’t have a time out too bad, you get trampled.

    Maybe a few games like that and players would respect why the rule is there instead of abusing it.

  49. jeffa43 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:55 PM

    News flash…. Been going on for decades….

  50. edisbetterthantroy says: Oct 23, 2012 5:02 PM

    I love football and just about all sports, but not so fast with the soccer comments. I don’t understand why the soccer haters always go there with the “flopping” comments. It’s gamesmanship that is displayed in all sports, like drawing a charge in basketball (with or without contact).

    Besides, the NFL is full of crybabies that throw their hands up after every single play demanding a flag, blame the officials for their losses, or make excuses when they get arrested, etc. This shouldn’t be a surprise. At least in soccer, when it’s this obvious, the player is red-carded and ejected.

    Sorry PFT world for my rant. Just a defense that I’ve been stating for years. Continue….

  51. steelcurtainn says: Oct 23, 2012 5:04 PM


  52. ziggy26 says: Oct 23, 2012 5:04 PM

    Sanders didn’t fake an injury to save a timeout or to get the correct personnel on the field. Sanders actually faked an injury because Roethlisberger was sacked and shaken up on the play. Had play been stopped to give attention to Roethlisberger, then Roethlisberger would have had to leave the field for a play. Instead, they stopped play to “attend” to Sanders.

  53. getyourownname says: Oct 23, 2012 5:05 PM

    Why would we expect a teammate of Ben to think there’s anything wrong with exaggerating a possible injury?

  54. dvdman123 says: Oct 23, 2012 5:13 PM

    Doesn’t this damage the integrity of the game?NFL should suspend head coach and player for the remainder of the season. At least here we have obvious video evidence unlike the boun…………..oh nevermind.

  55. blackngold4life says: Oct 23, 2012 5:14 PM

    LOL mannn y’all know damn well if the ACCUSED was on ya team you wouldn’t be sayin nothin..but because he a Steeler everybody and they granny got somethin to say! LOVE how ppl think about them,even on a Tuesday.

  56. toddwardou says: Oct 23, 2012 5:26 PM

    James Harrison will be fined for this!

  57. sactogary says: Oct 23, 2012 5:28 PM

    There sure was a big outcry when the replacement refs gave a team four time outs.

  58. stainlessstill says: Oct 23, 2012 5:29 PM

    LOL at the haters being mad at the Steelers for doing it when the NFL has allowed it before and has done nothing to crack down on it. It’s football, much worse things are going down in, on and around the field at all junctures. That said, I think it’s even MORE pathetic that the Bengals still couldn’t stop the Steelers on 3rd and 11. When it comes down to it, PLAY BALL. Bungles couldn’t get off the field.

  59. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 23, 2012 5:31 PM

    When the Steelers run that play in practice they call it a “Roethlisberger with a one and a half twist”.

  60. Deb says: Oct 23, 2012 5:33 PM

    Oh for Pete’s sake. It’s not like they stopped the clock to slow down an opponent’s no-huddle offense. This play had no impact on the outcome of the game. It was one freakin’ moment of hilarity. For once, can’t we all just have a laugh without being jerks about it?

  61. blackngold4life says: Oct 23, 2012 5:34 PM

    Show me one player who’s been fined for this in NFL history especially by his own team? That’s ridiculous. Quitcha crying.

  62. udjets says: Oct 23, 2012 5:35 PM

    But, but, but wait! Being told to stop isn’t enforceable if it was done in the past and was considered acceptable. He shouldn’t get any discipline because no one else has ever gotten punished. The NFLPA should be all over this, Goodell might try to make an example out of him, just ask a Saints fan…

  63. mike83ri says: Oct 23, 2012 5:36 PM

    Talk about threatening the integrity of the game.

  64. tincansailor981 says: Oct 23, 2012 5:41 PM

    One more punishment the Ginger Hammer can impose.

  65. ravenator says: Oct 23, 2012 5:45 PM

    Cheating, must be the steeler way. What a pathetic group of clowns.

  66. Nofoolnodrool says: Oct 23, 2012 5:57 PM

    I agree with Deb. everyone needs to lighten up! Every team has and will do it so don’t be a hypocrit. Too much whining and steeler envy… Grow up!

  67. koenig61 says: Oct 23, 2012 6:04 PM

    This is one of the stories and follow up posts that prove, if its a team I hate it’s wrong, if its my team, what’s the big deal. There are only a few people on this post who have actually distanced themselves and looked at it neutral. The league is over emphasizing safety. If a player is hurt you have to stop play. They would have stopped the play anyway, but instead it would have been to Roethlisberger being injured, which meant he would have sit out a play instead of sanders. As much as it looked like a questionable injury, anyone who has ever had a cramp knows it will knock you to your knees one minute, and then its gone the next. At least sanders limped all the way to the bench, and grimaced in pain on the bench. If it was a fake, he played it out to the end, even so much as to stretch it out after coming back on the field.

    Bottom line it’s almost totally unforceable, and you have to admit if one of your receivers saved your starting QB from missing a play or losing a timeout, you say he was pretty damn smart.

  68. pats777 says: Oct 23, 2012 6:13 PM

    Wow, it’s bad enough when defensive players flop to stop the hurry-up but this is ridiculous. The offense already dictates the gameplay and to have offensive players getting illegal clock stoppages/timeouts without penalty is totally out of control.

  69. jrmbadger says: Oct 23, 2012 6:14 PM

    49ersgiants4life says:
    Oct 23, 2012 4:06 PM
    I mean if it isn’t going to be penalized and the player doesn’t get fined or anything for it then in the end it is a smart play why wouldn’t players do that do that


    Do I really have to explain it to you?

    Just because you can cheat and not get caught doesn’t mean that its the right thing to do.

  70. joerevs300 says: Oct 23, 2012 6:36 PM

    Steeler fan here,

    Yeah, when I saw that replay, he’s standing in the huddle fine, and then collapsed like a sack of potatoes, it was pretty obvious what was going on.

    That being said, let’s not kid ourselves here. The Bengals had the Steelers on their heels, up 14-3. Had they simply remembered that AJ Green is on their team and thrown to him more than 3 times they would have won, no question.

    But Mike is right here. Kinda hard for the NFL to try and make the game safer when guys are “faking” injuries, which gives the casual fan the impression it’s simply more dangerous than ever.

  71. geektriumvirate says: Oct 23, 2012 6:38 PM

    Im pretty sure the ref looked the other way, since before the successful 2 point conversion, the bengals called a time out, and then pitt tried to call one as well after the bengals TO, and the ref incorrectly told them they couldnt call a TO

  72. vincentbojackson says: Oct 23, 2012 6:51 PM

    Collinsworth pointed out that Sanders was faking. The former Bengal also said it was “brilliant” and a “heads up move”.

  73. brintfatre says: Oct 23, 2012 6:55 PM

    As long as they don’t start putting fake bounties for the fake injuries…

  74. firstclasspack says: Oct 23, 2012 7:00 PM

    The clock had already been stopped because Big Ben was already hurt on the play and was going to have to come out. Sanders faked his injury so he could be the one to come out and Ben could stay in the game. Anyone who says that doesn’t affect the outcome is crazy. Having your starting QB instead of your backup QB is quite a big deal even if he’s just handing it off.

  75. csilojohnson says: Oct 23, 2012 7:07 PM

    Nothings ever a big deal untill the shmedia blows it up. I have seen that done by all teams. To say the Steelers get a free pass on anything is a joke. You obviously don’t watch many Steelers games. Steelers do it it cheating… Belicheat does it and he is a genius. Football wouldnt turn into a flop sport because there is 5 minutes of replays, and video review between 80% of the plays. Really how many times a game would faking an injury benefit. NBC really must hate the Steelers. Stop making huge stories out of nothing.
    “Big Ben has a hang nail! Is it Todd Haley’s fault?”

  76. gatorsandsteelerssuckbigblackclocks says: Oct 23, 2012 7:09 PM

    Anyone else shocked it’s the stealers pulling this bs? Nah, didnt think so. And those that are dumb enough to think this was sanders’ idea need just listen to an interview with him. He’s not that bright.

  77. cmstrick says: Oct 23, 2012 7:36 PM

    It’ll be too difficult to discipline teams for faking injuries. All we’d be doing is encouraging players to become better actors (which may not be a bad thing, either). Regardless, the refs are already burdened with too may “judgement calls”.

    When someone’s injured, just let the clock keep running. If the guy can’t get off the field before the playclock reaches zero, the team can take a timeout or accept a Delay-Of-Game penalty.

  78. protagoras111 says: Oct 23, 2012 7:44 PM

    effa43 says:
    Oct 23, 2012 4:55 PM
    News flash…. Been going on for decades….
    Gee, thanks for the newsflash. If you didn’t notice, the article you posted this under already said as much. But good for you for pointing it out a second time as a “newsflash”. Maybe your next job can be pointing out the time while standing underneath a big clock.

  79. CKL says: Oct 23, 2012 7:54 PM

    I agree with Rodgers419. The NFL will talk tough for just that reason and never do a thing.
    I admit, I actually laughed when I saw him do that, it was so obvious.

  80. sacpete1 says: Oct 23, 2012 7:55 PM

    gatorsandsteelerssuckbigblackclocks says:Oct 23, 2012 7:09 PM

    Anyone else shocked it’s the stealers pulling this bs? Nah, didnt think so. And those that are dumb enough to think this was sanders’ idea need just listen to an interview with him. He’s not that bright.

    It’s good to see a response that clearly has no bias in opinion. As much as I’m laughing at your post name, I really hope you’re not an adult.

  81. brazzz01 says: Oct 23, 2012 7:58 PM

    Now that it’s clear that their team ain’t all that, the Steelers would resort to cheating again. What a shock. Who’dve thunk it?

  82. granadafan says: Oct 23, 2012 8:19 PM

    In soccer, any player who rolls around in “agony” for longer than 2 minutes should be carted off the field. Then he should be banned from re-entering the field for 5 minutes. FIFA should also review dives and fine players/clubs/the Football Assocations.

  83. poopystinkypants says: Oct 23, 2012 8:36 PM

    As a Steelers fan I don’t like this at all. Seems to me the organization has taken a step back as far as sportsmanship, morality etc since Tomlin took over. Not that they were ever angels; name an organization that is. But I expect to be a fan of a team that plays hard every week and that does things the right way. The Steelers haven’t being doing that lately.

  84. csilojohnson says: Oct 23, 2012 10:41 PM

    It amazes me how many hater trolls pop up on any given Steelers article, injury report, etc. As a Steelers fan there is no better compliment to my hometown team. Nobody hates on losers. I would also like to touch on a troubling sudject.
    If you make an account just to hate on something. You are a complete loser. Your parents have failed society. You have no buisness commenting on anything. Go out and get a life.

  85. johnnyb1976 says: Oct 23, 2012 11:30 PM

    What a shock that a steeler could get away with faking an injury… What a damn joke.

  86. blackngold4life says: Oct 24, 2012 12:59 AM

    Don’t ya love these haters!? Like you said..No one mentions loosers. They on every blog..every news report, they got out of their way just to add opinions no Real Steeler fan gives a f#@$ about..the big bad dirty cheatn Steelers! That’s us! We not goin nowhere DEAL WITH IT

  87. packerbackerwalt says: Oct 24, 2012 3:23 AM

    I’ve watched the NFL for over 50 years now, and I gotta say this year is the worst season I’ve ever seen, even the strike years were better. Faking injuries, protecting QB’s like their made of glass, replacement refs giving away games and timeouts, the bounty farce, it’s turned into a big friggin joke. Not to mention people like Mario saying he doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks, and he says that to his teams” home newspaper no less. The defense now tries to punch the ball away, screw tackling the guy, let’s play the game like the greedy over grown children we are. I never thought I say this, but my days with the NFL are few now, there’s more flags than points, more agents and lawyers than players, and it’s all wrapped up in a big gummy package we pay hundreds a ticket for. Not me, not anymore. The fans need to take the game back, stop going for a year until the NFL starts running a football league and not a circus business.

  88. sudz28 says: Oct 24, 2012 9:05 AM

    As they say… don’t hate the player, hate the game. I don’t like flopping/faking injuries either but unless he broke a rule what are you going to do? I didn’t see the play but I’ll take it at face value he faked the injury for *whatever* reason. If it didn’t impact the outcome of the game, it’s hardly worth 85 comments.

  89. gatorsandsteelerssuckbigblackclocks says: Oct 24, 2012 9:14 AM

    Troubling subject to be sure csilojohnson. Let’s form a posse, find out who they are, and overreact all over their face.

  90. mbart94 says: Oct 24, 2012 10:08 AM

    Still undecided on which flop I enjoyed more on Sunday, Sanders or the Ravens.

  91. huffdaddyco says: Oct 30, 2012 8:54 AM

    I presume the league just decided that wearing those fugly throwback uniforms was punishment enough.

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